It was a full house, with 65 people attending April Nielsen’s excellent presentation on creating a traditional looking landscape using native plants. She began the program talking about native plant ecology defining ‘natives’ as plants that have evolved and thrived here before European settlers arrived, going on to describe how our native species are perfectly suited for our climate, our soil types, and for our wildlife.
April also pointed out that native plants are better than invasive ornamentals or native cultivars for multiple reasons:
They require less water and soon become self-sufficient.
They need less fertilizer which help keep our run-off water clean of chemicals.
They out-compete weeds and save us maintenance time.
Their deep roots provide erosion control and build better soil.
The plants themselves become a community for a variety of insects.
She explained that to begin ‘going native’ on your land, the operative word may be forethought. April advised us that we should take the time to observe a site through all the seasons, noting the sun-exposed areas and the shady ones. We also need to know the soil hydrology. Next consider the bloom times, plant height, color combinations and various textures.
Before you begin digging, here are some things to consider:
Placing shrubs and trees with adequate space from house or structures
Leaving generous space-to-grow around each plant
Planning for the narrowing of sidewalks or pathways after a few years of plant growth
Woody natives that are chosen correctly and placed with forethought and plenty of room from your house and other plantings will reward you in the future. (See Native Herbaceous Plants guide below, Pgs. 6-10)
Lastly, she shared with us an inexpensive and environmentally friendly weed barrier alternative to landscape fabric: flatten cardboard boxes, cut holes for placement of plants and then cover with 3″- 4″ of organic mulch or leaf litter.
April left us with beautiful images of many of her favorite native species and a very useful 10 page plant guide to help us get started on a bit of our own traditional looking landscape using native plants.
Click below for April’s plant guide.